Reclaim Australia, No Room for Racism rally in Melbourne
Police have deployed capsicum spray and the horse squad, as well as hundreds of uniformed officers, in a bid to control violent protests near Parliament House.
Right-wing group Reclaim Australia had only just begun its rally at 11am when counter-demonstrators from anti-racism groups and anarchists attempted to breach police lines on Spring Street.
A small number of hooded and masked anti-racism protesters broke through and nearly reached screaming members of Reclaim, which included a man with Nazi tattoos taunting them with calls of “lefty scum”.
Police use pepper spray on anti-Reclaim Australia protesters. Photo: Luis Ascui
The anti-Islam group attracted about 50 protesters at its 11am rally, but numbers grew just after midday when about 60 supporters of the hardline United Patriots Front joined them.
The UPF was escorted to the rally from behind police lines and on the opposite side from the anti-racism protest groups.
Reclaim protesters clash with opposition protesters. Photo: Luis Ascui
“Need back up? We’re here now,” one of them said as they entered the secure protest zone.
The two crowds were separated 20 metres by two deep police lines, which left both sides screaming obscenities but not able to clash.
An anti-racism protester Kat Galea, is cared for after being pepper sprayed. Photo: Luis Ascui
Mike Holt, head of Restore Australia, told Fairfax Media he was disappointed by the turn out of “everyday” Australians: “I can’t believe how small the crowd is. It’s terrible.”
Later when addressing the crowd, he said the protest was against the “creeping Islamisation of Australia”.
“This is a chance to tell people that there can be a different way… this is about keeping Australia, Australian,” he said.
Protesters gather in Melbourne. Photo: Chris Vedelago
Blair Cottrell, from the UPF, told the crowd it needed “faith” and called for the Prime Minister to become involved.
“A faith can only be defeated by another faith just as strong. The faith we need now is the faith of our nation,” Mr Cottrell said.
“This is a gathering of Australian people, of Australian votes. Where is Mr Abbott?”